08 Jun Social Mobility & Financial Aid
In the 1970s, Colorado served as a national model for social mobility among racial and ethnic groups. We once had a distribution of income that was far more equal than that of the nation. Fast-forward over 40 years and one would think that we have continued to improve on the great achievements of the 70s.
Sadly, based on 2012 U.S. Census data, the lowest-income 20 percent of Coloradoans received a mere 3.4 percent of the aggregate income of the state while the top 20 percent received almost half of the total income. In pizza math, the top 20 percent shared half of the pizza while the bottom 20 percent split one fourth of a piece. All of the gains leading up to the 70s have been lost.
There is no question that a complicated set of issues and policies exist that society needs to address. Fortunately for us, we work in a profession that offers the clearest, most predictable path out of the lowest quintile in Colorado. A college degree does wonders at leveling this playing field and it absolutely cannot happen without the financial aid office.
Historically marginalized populations in Colorado need us now more than ever. If you have the opportunity at your institution to influence policy that not only supports access, but also success, jump on it. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I am committed to leveling the playing field and would love the opportunity to talk with others about best practices in access and success initiatives and financial aid’s role.
Check out a short YouTube video that best illustrates the social mobility problems we face as a nation.
Give me a call if you would like to chat.
Tom Biedscheid, 2015 CAFAA Past-president
Director – Student Financial Services
Colorado State University